To host Local 706’s 75th Anniversary party on Nov. 3, there was no better venue than The Hollywood Museum, located in the historic Max Factor building on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif. Members and guests of Local 706, the west-coast union of make-up artists and hairstylists, included make-up artists Mike Smithson, Jeff Angell and Barry Koper, as well as photographer David LaChapelle. Attendees came decked out in the chicest cocktail attire to grace the red carpet and celebrate this monumental anniversary, while exploring the many features of the cultural landmark.
Make-Up Artist magazine had a chance to chat with some industry professionals at the event, as well as with the union’s president, Susan Cabral-Ebert, and its business representative, Tommy Cole, about the importance of the guild, the changes the union has seen over time and what artists can expect of Local 706 in years to come.
Karen Westerfield, who won her second Emmy in 1993 alongside Make-Up Artist’s very own Michael Key for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, spoke of the increase in the union’s number of artists in recent years. “It’s changed in the sense that there is a lot more make-up artists. The number of jobs hasn’t really changed, but the number of make-up artists has changed,” she said. Cabral-Ebert confirmed this increase. “When I came in, we had maybe 350 people all together—make-up and hair—and now we have over 1700,” she said.
Cabral-Ebert also noted the shift in the number of male and female members of the union over time. “When I came in, it was predominately male make-up artists. I was maybe one of five percent of the females that first came in,” she said. “And over the years, it has changed to not only 50-50, or maybe 63 percent women, but it seems to have either broken off into either special make-up effects or beauty, and there’s very few people who do both.”
When asked about the key benefits of Local 706 membership, nearly every person interviewed mentioned better pay as well as health coverage, as compared to non-union work. “The key benefits are, really, well you just said the word: benefits,” Cole explained. “That’s what people are working for now, benefits, because health care now is so expensive.”
Cabral-Ebert added that working within the union and on union films is likely to help artists’ careers in another sense. “When you really want to get up into the upper echelons, you get into the union,” she said. “Because most of those films are the ones that win Academy Awards, Emmys—you’re working with a different echelon. It’s much more professional.”
Attendees also mentioned the camaraderie and sense of heritage that union membership provides. Emmy Award-winning make-up artist Koper said of the benefits of 706 membership, “[It’s] all of the talent, all together, in one big group. I mean, it’s the heritage, the history, the technology and the fact that it’s handed down from generation to generation.” And make-up artist Sharon Gault seemed to agree: “It’s a new family,” she said. “It’s being part of Hollywood history and being part of a new family.”
Regarding the future of Local 706, Cole said that the union is going to be around and supporting artists for a long time to come. “We’re always going to be here,” he said. “There’s always going to be work in this town. It’s just changed. I’m very optimistic about this business. I think it is going to come back to a certain extent to L.A., and we’re always going to have talented make-up artists and hairstylists here in L.A. to work film and television and theater and commercials and network television—all of the venues that our members work,” he said. And it’s clear that Los Angeles supports and appreciates Local 706 as well. At a special ceremony on Nov. 2, the City of Los Angeles proclaimed Nov. 3, 2012 the official IATSE Local 706 Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Day. (continued below)
Needless to say, spirits were high at the museum. The celebratory evening culminated in a presentation emceed by Face Off host McKenzie Westmore, in which commendatory speeches were given by Cabral-Ebert; Cole; Donelle Dadigan, the founder and president of The Hollywood Museum; Matthew D. Loeb, the international president of IATSE; and others.
As for the members of Local 706, Loeb said it best: “There is no TV industry, there is no motion picture industry, without you!”
A Westmore-family display at The Hollywood Museum
The Max Factor redhead make-up room at The Hollywood Museum